Racial and Socio-economic Achievement Gaps

  • Why aren’t there more Deidre Greens?, By Susan Troller, December 2, 2009, Capital Times: “Deidre Green got off to a rough start with a bad case of infant jaundice that overwhelmed her mother. She went to live with her grandmother, who showered her with attention that likely changed the arc of her life. ‘I suppose I got pretty spoiled,’ the UW-Madison freshman says with a laugh. ‘My grandma played with me all the time – she did puzzles with me, read to me. She always told me I was smart, so when I got to school, that was what I expected. It was what she expected, too.’ For Green, a variety of serendipitous factors – her own talent and hard work, supportive mentors in and out of school, a core group of good friends and key opportunities – helped her excel in Madison public schools. An educational pioneer in her family, she intends to also do well in college and then go to law school…”
  • Report: Minorities, low-income students lag in college success, By Daniel de Vise, December 3, 2009, Washington Post: “A new report, billed as one of the most comprehensive studies to date of how low-income and minority students fare in college, shows a wide gap in graduation rates at public four-year colleges nationwide and ‘alarming’ disparities in success at community colleges. The analysis, released Thursday, provides a statistical starting point for 24 public higher education systems that pledged two years ago to halve the achievement gap in college access and completion by 2015. Together, the systems represent two-fifths of all undergraduate students in four-year public colleges…”
  • Skills gulf near impassable for poor children, By Adele Horin, December 3, 2009, Sydney Morning Herald: “Children from poor families have fallen so far behind their peers by the age of six in language development and other measures they are in danger of never catching up, a study has shown. Researchers tracked 5000 four-year-olds and 5000 infants for two years and found stark differences in the cognitive development of children from different socio-economic backgrounds. The differences were evident by age four. As well, there were marked differences in the health of children from different backgrounds, with the most disadvantaged likely to have poorer general health, sleep problems, and ‘illnesses with wheezes.’ Dr Jan Nicholson, associate professor of psychology at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said the results were worse than expected for cognitive development. The findings will be presented to the Growing Up in Australia conference this week…”
  • How the economy is failing students, By J. Patrick Coolican and Emily Richmond, December 2, 2009, Las Vegas Sun: “The Clark County School District has always struggled with its sky-high population of poor children. The number of homeless students is expected to reach 8,000 by the end of the academic year, a 30 percent increase. And a full 44 percent of the district’s students receive free or reduced-price lunches, a commonly used indicator of childhood poverty. Family poverty, in turn, is correlated with lagging student achievement. Now, the deep recession threatens to make this problem worse, and do so for years to come. According to a study from two economists at the University of California, Davis, a parent’s job loss can increase by 15 percent the likelihood that a student will repeat a grade. This short-term damage, which is particularly acute in families where the breadwinner has just a high school degree, matches up with other data showing the negative long-term effects of poverty on student achievement…”

Report: Poverty and Social Exclusion – Britain

  • Poverty in Britain is at a nine year high, says Joseph Rowntree Foundation report, By Christopher Hope, December 3, 2009, The Telegraph: “The Tories said the report was an indictment of the Government’s failure to tackle low earnings and blew ‘Labour’s hollow claim to be the party of poverty.’ The study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that the gap between the haves and have-nots started growing in 2004, long before the recession began. The foundation’s report found that the number of people living in ‘low income’ households was now 13.4 million, the highest level since 2000 when it was nearly 14 million. A low income household is one that lives on less than 60 per cent of the average UK household income in the year in question – after housing costs and council tax. For a family of four it is £14,560 a year. The annual report into poverty in Britain also found that nearly one in eight people of working age are out of work – the highest proportion since Labour came to power in 1997. Repossessions were now back at the level they were in 1994, the study said…”
  • Poverty on the rise, says Joseph Rowntree report, December 3, 2009, BBC News: “Poverty has been rising in the UK since 2004 and is now at the same level as the start of the decade, a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says. The group said that issues of unemployment and the repossession of homes had become more acute before the recession started. It said long-term solutions were needed to reverse the poverty trend. But the report also pointed to improvements over the last decade, such as a decreasing fear of crime. It added that 11 to 16-year-olds were getting better basic school results, and there were fewer youngsters thrown out of school. The rate of premature deaths is falling and infant mortality has also dropped over the past 10 years…”

Food Stamp Program Enrollment – South Dakota, Louisiana

  • Food stamp use soars in S. Dakota, By Jon Walker, December 2, 2009, Sioux Falls Argus Leader: “Food stamps are putting supper on the table for more South Dakota families, and the usage has soared in Sioux Falls, home of the state’s most robust economy. Statewide use of the government benefit jumped 34 percent this fall compared to a year ago, and in Minnehaha County, the rate rose 52 percent. ‘Obviously, it’s the hard economic times. Some folks who were always eligible just scraped by and did not apply. Now, they can’t just scrape by anymore,’ said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, deputy secretary of the South Dakota Department of Social Services in Pierre. More than one-tenth of South Dakotans now use food stamps, which give eligible households an average of $319 a month for groceries. The income limit for a family of four to qualify is $2,389 a month or $28,668 a year…”
  • Report: Food stamp rolls have grown in La., By Sarah Chacko, December 3, 2009, Baton Rouge Advocate: “More Louisiana families are receiving food stamps now than in the past 20 years, a trend mirroring national reports that more people are in need of the federal assistance because of job loss. Nationwide, the number of food stamp recipients has climbed by about 10 million since 2007, resulting in a program that feeds one in eight Americans and nearly one in four children, according to a story published Sunday in The New York Times. However, Louisiana’s trends may not be directly linked to a poor economy, a state official said…”

Child Homelessness – New Jersey, Indiana

  • Homeless children a growing statistic, By Joseph Gidjunis, November 30, 2009, Courier-Post: “For the second time in Tracy Adkins’ life, she and her children are homeless. The 26-year-old has held several jobs, but she’s lost them in this recession. Rent remains expensive, as is every utility, she said. Now she and her two children, one 6, another 3, are sharing a room at the Anna Sample Complex in Camden, an in-demand shelter run by Volunteers of America Delaware Valley. Adkins’ 3-year-old attends preschool in Camden and her 6-year-old rides a bus to Woodbury Public Schools. Her daughter takes the bus at Woodbury’s expense to minimize separation and missed schooling. If feasible, federal law requires districts to do what is in the child’s best interests, despite the cost, officials said. More than a year into the national housing crisis and recession, Adkins’ family story isn’t rare. While some recovering economic indicators such as the country’s Gross Domestic Product and stock market offer hope that the financial crisis is on the rebound, state and local officials said they expect to see peak counts of homeless children this year…”
  • Ind. sees more homeless students as economy slumps, By Deanna Martin (AP), December 1, 2009, Chicago Tribune: “The number of Indiana public school students who are homeless has jumped in recent years — and is expected to climb further — as high foreclosure and unemployment rates leave more parents struggling to provide stable homes for their children. During the 2005-2006 school year, Indiana public schools recorded 7,547 homeless students, according to an issue brief released Wednesday by the Indiana Youth Institute. The number jumped to 8,249 the following year and to 8,480 during the 2007-2008 school year — marking a 12 percent increase over two years. Those numbers do not include younger students who are not of school age or ‘unaccompanied youth’ who are especially difficult to count because they are living on their own and often do not seek help from shelters…”

Access to Banking for the Low-income

  • 25.6% of U.S. households use conventional banks little or not at all, By Tiffany Hsu, December 3, 2009, Los Angeles Times: “More than a quarter of American households have limited or no interaction with conventional banks, making it more difficult for those families to establish credit, according to the first-ever federal survey of how consumers use financial services. The survey, released Wednesday, found that 25.6% of households — 30 million in all — did not use basic banking services last year or relied on alternative services, such as high- interest payday loans, to get needed cash. Those so-called unbanked and underbanked Americans are disproportionally low-income and minority families, including more than half of black households, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. survey…”
  • FDIC: Poor, minorities struggle to access banks, By Daniel Wagner (AP), December 2, 2009, Wisconsin State Journal: “More than a million American households lost access to basic banking services like savings accounts last year, bank regulators say. Those families are among 30 million households that have little or no access to such services, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Poor, minority and immigrant families are especially hard-hit. In all, 25.6 percent of U.S. households either lack bank accounts or use payday loans, check-cashing services and other costly alternatives to traditional banks, according to the survey…”